Excuse us for droning on...

By: Raquel Wilson

See how a push for innovation led to eyes in the skies that help our entire Network team.

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Sky-high innovation

There’s been a lot of talk about drones recently. As host Raquel Wilson points out on today’s Up To Speed, Hans spoke to the growing opportunities for 5G-enabled drones in his CES keynote address, including our deal with UPS Flight Forward. Then, Rima Qureshi mentioned drones again during this week’s 4Q20 Results webcast.

It makes sense. Not only does our drone company Skyward help customers better manage their drone fleets, but our Network team has also found multiple uses for drones.

We’re far ahead of our competitors in this area, and that isn’t by chance. A few years ago, when California-based Network Field Assurance Engineer Chris Schaefer showed Gennie Barr, Senior Network Assurance Manager, all that his personal drone could do in terms of maneuverability and photo capture, they realized there was enormous potential for at-work use cases.

They drew up a plan and invited Abby Knowles, VP Network and Field Operations, to California to see a drone in action. Abby loved the initiative, and after many meetings and presentations, Gennie was given approval for what eventually became a ten pilot drone program.

Today, drone flights allow Network teams to view the top of a cell tower without having to send humans physically up a pole, saving substantial time, energy and money while improving safety.

Matthew Tuck, Senior Manager of Network Engineering and Operations in Richmond, VA, helped expand the program nationwide, further increasing cost savings. In addition to drone reconnaissance, his drone pilots have joined the Verizon Response Team (VRT) on hurricane and other natural disaster support missions, where they inspect towers, equipment and mountain roads for damage. When a tower has been knocked down, the team also has the ability to send a tethered drone with a “flying cell site” 250 feet in the air, returning cell service to a town in under two hours of the team’s arrival.

It’s amazing to see these great ideas making a difference for our customers, employees and ultimately our shareholders. Matthew and Gennie promise that as crews in the field continue to work with drones in real-world situations, they’ll be able to find more use cases for these high-tech tools. The innovation never stops.

In the meantime, next time you need a creative solution to a problem, don’t forget to look up.

If you have any questions, email them to live@verizon.com.

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About the author(s):

Raquel Wilson is a former adfellow and now on her way to becoming a communications pro. You can always rely on her to have a good book recommendation and a latte she probably paid way too much for.

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